Antitrust Laws Are a Bedrock of Competition

Despite the 100-year record of antitrust laws promoting entrepreneurial activity, holding down industry concentration, and compelling price competition, the author of the opinion-page article ''Antitrust Laws Need Regulatory Reform,'' March 24, seeks to gut these laws because he disagrees with a particular case. He points out that industry concentration has not grown in the last 25 years. Has he considered that such has not happened because of antitrust enforcement? He decries efforts to stop Microsoft's monopolistic practices, but fails to note that the breakup of AT&T by the Justice Department led to eight healthy companies (whose creative energy is ensuring the United States' technological lead), instead of one monopoly with no incentive to innovate.

The Sherman Act is a bedrock of our free institutions. It has helped ensure a climate of commercial innovation, competitive prices for consumers, and fairness for all.

Charles G. Brown, Alexandria, Va.

Former chair Antitrust Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General

This article was right on target.

Our government actively supports monopoly situations in agriculture and other areas to the proven financial detriment of the public. Attempting to control Microsoft is not only detrimental to the best interest of the consumer, but it severely affects the competitive position of the US in the world market.

When are those people in Washington going to realize that they are not all-knowing?

Donald Bradley, Plainfield, N.H.

Day care: You get what you pay for

As a father of a 2-1/2 year old and the husband of a professional woman who now works at home taking care of our son, I found disturbing the travails of finding high-quality day care (''Who'll Look After Little Clara?'' March 27). In short, most couples who want ''high quality'' day care are simply too cheap to pay for it.

In the Washington metropolitan area, a very expensive region, day care for young children is available at rates as low as $75 a week, or $3,750 a year for 50 weeks. Keep in mind that if a caregiver has three infants at that rate, that comes only to $5.60 an hour. This is basically the same wage that fast-food workers in this area earn.

According to the article, high-quality care in an expensive city can cost $8,450 a year. This is just 2-1/4 times as expensive as bottom-rate care.

Compare that with something else most families require: cars. An inexpensive new car today costs around $12,000. However, there are high-quality automobiles for sale for at least $60,000, five times the price of the cheaper cars. Note that there is no shortage of Mercedes, BMWs, and Cadillacs.

The difference between the prices of basic and high-quality child care is small. If two-parent families were willing to pay five times as much for high-quality day care as for basic care, around $18,750 a year, there would be no shortage of this care. That might seem like a lot, but my wife earned $30,000 a year before our son was born.

Brian F. Bieron, Alexandria, Va.

Japan wouldn't like imitators

Regarding the article ''Japan Tries Cloning Its Economic Model in Willing Nations,'' March 24: Japan's actions reveal its growing role as the next world power. Its promotion of ''Asian-style'' capitalism reminds us of US and British economic imperialism of the past. Ironically, by promoting its own form of capitalism, Japan is encouraging other Asian countries to put up import barriers that could potentially hurt Japan's own trade with them. Japan's success relies on other nations' markets being open to its products. In the long run, Japan will not benefit from encouraging others to duplicate its economic policies.

Natalie Cutsforth, Broomfield, Colo.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet E-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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